HOWB 017 – Dale McKinnon wooden boat builder, long distance rower interview

by admin on January 12, 2012



Interview: Dale McKinnon
Starting with competitive swimming (including trials for 1964 Olympics), then moving on to sailing, skiing, diving and cycling, Dale has always been adventurous and an ultra active athlete. But after a skiing accident in 1999 that shattered her left leg, Dale was looking for her next adventure – something with low impact to the lower body, but still a great workout.

In Dale’s own words, here’s what happened next: “…. a few weeks later (after skiing accident), I stopped by my friend James’ house and he had plans for a dory spread out on his kitchen table. He showed me a photo of the boat’s designer rowing in a sliding seat rig in the boat, and for some reason lights and bells went off in my head. I had to build this boat, and I knew that rowing it would take me into old age with a relatively healthy body.  No jarring, but a lot of exercise for the major muscle groups. And… I’d be on the water…”

Dale has dories in her blood.  Her father is from Gloucester, MA and told Dale many stories of fishing and surviving tall seas in traditional planked dories.  Dale did her dory reserach and went on to build several Sam Devlin designed wooden boats, including the 20′ dory “Bella” that she solo rowed 800 miles from Ketchikan, AK to Bellingham, WA.  Click on the green player button above to hear the full interview.

Here’s some pics to enjoy:

Dale Stiching 20′ Sam Devlin designed dory “Bella”


“Bella” waiting for installation of gunwales


“Bella” on 800 mile open ocean row


“Bella” rowing by iceberg bits from the LeConte Glacier, Petersburg, AK


Two of Dale’s dory builds: “Bella” on left, and “Mac” (an Oarling) on right. Nice job Dale!

Dale out for a morning row in Bellingham, WA.

If you’d like to contact Dale, her email is  Thanks again Dale for taking the time to meet with me!!!

Next Week – Interview with Chuck Stuckey – President, Rivers West Small Craft Center, Portland, OR.
Hear Chucks story about how he got into small wooden boats, what the Rivers West club is up to, and why it’s worthwhile for him to volunteer a lot of his personal “retirement” time to an organization like this.

Want to help?  Please leave feedback!
I want to build a community of people from all over the world who want to connect, learn, share stories and photos, and have fun with wooden boats.  I would REALLY appreciate you sending me wooden boats pics, stories, or projects you are working on.  You can also write in my blogs comment sections, email me at, or call my feedback hotline at 424 261-2360.


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